Have you ever noticed that good feeling you get when you take a bite into your favorite food? Or when you’re enjoying your favorite hobby? That’s dopamine being released upon you performing a pleasurable activity!
Though do you know how dopamine works in the body? And the vital role of vitamin B6?
You’ve come to the right place to learn about it all!
This article covers everything you need to know about vitamin B6 and dopamine along with the role they both play in the body.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), is one of the many essential B-vitamins involved in several important processes in the body.
The “6” in vitamin B6 refers to the six common forms - pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, and their phosphorylated forms.1
Some of the more known roles of B6 include helping us:
- Use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
- Form hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.2
Additionally, B6 plays a big role in synthesizing neurotransmitters and regulating homocysteine levels. More on this coming up!
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals
How Does B6 Work in the Brain?
Vitamin B6 is involved in regulating our mood and cognitive function in many ways, but here are the two most significant ways:
- Vitamin B6 is a key player in the synthesis of many neurotransmitters, including GABA, serotonin, dopamine, noradrenalin, and histamine.3 B6 thus helps increase brain serotonin and dopamine levels, decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain.
- Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in the normal functioning of the central nervous system. B6, alongside B12 and folate, help to break down homocysteine.4
Elevated homocysteine can wreak havoc on our body by damaging our blood vessels, increasing our risk of heart and neurodegenerative disease. High homocysteine levels have even been associated with cognitive dysfunction in a wide range of conditions.5
What Happens if We Become Deficient in B6?
Mild deficiencies may not present many issues. However, more severe and prolonged deficiencies may cause skin conditions, lowered immunity, confusion and depression.
As B6 plays a key role in the synthesis of many neurotransmitters, a deficiency may cause a depletion, potentially leading to cognitive decline. Cognitive decline can result in symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, depression and overall poor mental performance.6
It has actually been shown that B6 deficiency is associated with symptoms of depression.7
Can We Supplement With B6?
Adults need around 1.7mg of vitamin B6 per day. We can usually get this through diet alone, but are there any additional benefits to supplementing?
It has been shown that supplementing with B6, B9, and B12 helps balance homocysteine levels. There are also potential nootropic benefits, and these vitamins can play a key role in supporting mental performance in relation to cognitive decline, as well as promote mood balance, mental energy and overall brain health!
Our Mind Lab Pro supplement is a prime example of an effective nootropic formula containing B6, B9, and B12 as a synergistic trio!
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that B6 helps synthesize. To put it simply, our body makes dopamine so our nervous system can use it to send messages between nerve cells; this is why dopamine is considered to be a “chemical messenger”.
You also may often hear of dopamine being one of the “feel-good” hormones, as it plays a role in our brain's reward system. This is why dopamine is associated with pleasure and can be “boosted” by doing pleasurable activities such as listening to music, exercising, and sleeping well!
Dopamine also affects many other behaviors and physical functions such as:
- Kidney function
Low dopamine levels have been linked to a number of ailments and mental health disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease.8
While low dopamine levels are not a direct cause of these conditions, it can make us aware that there may be an underlying condition that requires attention!
Some signs of low dopamine levels include:
- Feeling low and fatigued
- Lacking focus
- Feeling demotivated
- Mood swings
Dopamine Vs. Serotonin
These neurotransmitters often go hand in hand as they both play roles in our mood and overall well-being!
While dopamine is involved mostly in movement along with pleasurable rewards and feelings, serotonin is more involved with regulating our sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, and hormonal activity.
Therefore, while they work closely together, they have slightly different roles in the body!
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is one of the many essential B-vitamins
- B6 is involved in many vital processes in the body, including energy-yielding metabolism and forming hemoglobin
- B6 is also involved in synthesizing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and metabolizing homocysteine
- B6 supplementation has been shown to be effective, particularly as an ingredient in nootropic formulas such as Mind Lab Pro
- Dopamine is one of our “chemical messengers”, associated with reward, mood, pleasure, and movement
- Low dopamine levels have been linked with several ailments and conditions, such as mental health issues and Parkinson’s disease.
- Clayton PT. B6-responsive disorders: a model of vitamin dependency. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2006 Apr-Jun;29(2-3):317-26. doi: 10.1007/s10545-005-0243-2. PMID: 16763894.
- Miodownik C, Lerner V, Vishne T, Sela BA, Levine J. High-dose vitamin B6 decreases homocysteine serum levels in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders: a preliminary study. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2007 Jan-Feb;30(1):13-7.
- Setién-Suero, E., Suárez-Pinilla, M., Suárez-Pinilla, P., Crespo-Facorro, B. and Ayesa-Arriola, R., 2016. Homocysteine and cognition: a systematic review of 111 studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 69, pp.280-298.
- Mikkelsen, K., Stojanovska, L., Tangalakis, K., Bosevski, M. and Apostolopoulos, V., 2016. Cognitive decline: a vitamin B perspective. Maturitas, 93, pp.108-113.
- Hvas AM, Juul S, Bech P, Nexø E. Vitamin B6 level is associated with symptoms of depression. Psychother Psychosom. 2004 Nov-Dec;73(6):340-3. doi: 10.1159/000080386. PMID: 15479988.
- Brisch R, Saniotis A, Wolf R, et al. The role of dopamine in schizophrenia from a neurobiological and evolutionary perspective: old fashioned, but still in vogue. Kumaritlake, Jaliya. Front Psychiatry. 2014;5:47. Published 2014 May 19.